This series comprises three major groups. The first group (AA 338/1/1/1 to AA 338/1/28) relates to observations and data recorded by Tindale in the field whilst on expedition. The second group (AA 338/1/29 to AA 338/1/44) comprises notes and data compiled on short trips or visits and related papers. Finally, the third group (AA 338/1/45 to AA 338/1/53/14) comprises desk journals that predominantly relate to the study of anthropological collections overseas and additional notes recorded later in his life on both entomology and anthropology. Together the journals form the core series of Tindale's life's work. The other series are records created to supplement and support the journals, such as maps and photographs. These have been carefully cross-referenced by Tindale.
Tindale developed his record-keeping skills on instruction from Sir Baldwin Spencer. Spencer taught Tindale to enter key data of the day each night prior to retiring. Tindale learned to record data on the right hand page leaving the left hand page blank for annotations, additions, insertion of photographs, pasting of correspondence and newspaper clippings and any other related or supported documentation. Spencer also imparted the wisdom of experience to bind the journal once it had reached approximately 500 pages with an index. It was also useful to insert a title page so that the volume could be quoted as a manuscript book in the future.
Tindale's journals record the day's events on both the left-hand and right-hand pages until the expedition to the Mann and Musgrave Ranges, North West of South Australia, from May to July 1933, and to Ernabella in August of the same year (AA 338/1/9). In addition, not all journals have indexes or contents lists, but some have both.
Bound volumes often contain supplementary material, such as newspaper clippings, photographs and reports relating to the expedition inserted at the time of binding or at a later date. (See series AA 338/2 for additional supplementary papers.)
For each journal entry, the relavent 'Tindale tribe' or tribes have been listed, and they have been drawn from the catalogue of tribes published in Tindale's 1974 Aboriginal tribes of Australia, their terrain, environmental controls, distribution, limits, and proper names. This publication is one way to gain entry to the journals.